Like all of us, I’m just trying to figure out how, and why Trump won, and what to do next. But, unlike most analyses, I want to take an international angle, though.
Sure, there’s “Brexit” — the surprising vote to leave the EU in England in June. But did you know the massive patterns it’s from?
- The Scottish Nationalist Party ejected Labor from its traditional stronghold of Scotland, taking 56 of 59 seats on May 8, 2015
- The anti-austerity, practically brand-new Syriza won its third election in a row in September 20 in Greece.
- October 4 saw a left-wing government in Portugal take over with the backing of the Communists.
- The French National Front broke its records, winning over 40% of the vote in the first round of December regional elections, before losing to a unified opposition in the run-offs. The FN is expected to get into the presidential runoff next year.
- In Spain, two brand-new parties, Ciudanos and Podemos, combined for a third of the national vote on December 20th. Catalonia was won by sovereigntists. This was repeated again this spring.
- On February 26, 2016 the two parties that have dominated Irish politics received a combined 94 out of 158 seats, the lowest combined share ever.
- In March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was pushed into third place by a new anti-immigrant party, the AfD in her home region.
- One June 22, Romans elected a mayor running on the Five Star Movement ticket, founded by a comedian that promises to take policy positions through online referendums.
- On July 2, the two parties/coalitions that have dominated postwar Australia politics received their lowest combined vote share ever.
- A week before the American election, the Pirate Party tied for the second most seats in Iceland.
Throughout the Western world, the groups that have led political life for decades have lost not just votes’ affection or trust, but basic credibility.. In most of the West, that dislike takes the forms of new parties. With a system built to make party-building almost impossible in the United States, they are somewhat subsumed into our two-party system. Anywhere else, Sanders and Trump would not have run on their respective tickets, but built new (and quite probably rather successful) parties.
For Democrats to succeed, they need to take the opportunity presented by our structures that artificially sustain the two parties. Sure, we can be narrowly correct in blaming this loss on the electoral college, he media, or Comey. But the true opportunity in 2018 is not “we’re not them!” and embracing Chuck Schumer as leader won’t do it — we need a credible answer to the forces that are driving the global reaction shown above.
Part of that is looking at these groups — what can be learned from them? Some are brand new, some aren’t — the party making the most gains in Ireland is Sinn Fein. The people taking votes away in Australia are longtime Senators bickering with the main parties. Some are left-wing and some are right-wing. What do they do that Democrats can learn from?
Based on all this, you would think we were in the middle of the Great Depression or a world war. Granted, the greatest economic upset since the GD was just a few years ago, but frankly right now I don’t see the world as so out of sorts as to justify this temper tantrum. What am I missing?
1. The rich are vacuuming an increasingly disproportionate share of wealth and income, and
2. Social mobility is plummeting.
Combine those, it means that most people see their lives getting worse, and much more worrisome, realize their child has little chance of having a better life regardless of their abilities and work. It’s easier to see the end of a depression or war than a rigged system. Switching between D and R, or Labour and Conservative, or Labour and Liberal, etc., has done nothing to stop that in these countries. (Of course, many of the above examples have specific conditions in their countries, but the pattern is unmistakable).
What you are missing is that America IS in the middle of the Great Recession.
James (Conway) and others here see it in Western MA. I saw it this fall in MD, VA, and WV. I saw it this spring in my train ride through the eastern heartlands, from DC through Atlanta, Atlanta to New Orleans, New Orleans to Chicago, Chicago through PA back to DC.
My wife and I saw it in Cumberland MD on Mothers Day, when the lovely downtown area of that struggling mountain town — expensively refurbished in an effort to stay attractive — was absolutely EMPTY on a warm sunny Mother’s Day at 4:30p. All the restaurants and shops were closed. The handful of people walking around were hikers from the nearby C&O canal trailhead.
Cumberland, MD: Lovely and empty
What you are missing is that you and I live in arguably the most prosperous few square miles of the nation. When was the last time you walked through Springfield? Have you ever been to Birmingham, AL? How much of New Orleans have you seen (not the French Quarter, but the real city, a few blocks away)? Have you looked out the left side of a train southbound through Baltimore, just before the city center?
For that matter, when was the last time you rode the Northeast Regional (the slow train) from Boston to Washington, so that you can actually SEE what is happening even on the northeast corridor? Then understand that the northeast corridor is many times more prosperous than the rest of the country. After you’re finished even a brief tour of America east of the Mississippi and south of Boston, I encourage you to do the same in Europe.
I think you’ll find that the world around us is MUCH MUCH worse than things look in Lowell, Andover, Somerville, Boston, and similar metro-Boston enclaves.
Most of the world is, in fact, “in the middle of the Great Depression or a world war”.
That’s all I’ve been saying and I think folks in those communities feel like District 13 lookin at the Capital District knowing it’s sons and daughters do the dying in our wars, dying from our drugs, and are jobless due to forces of change we encouraged. And they just gave us the finger for ignoring them, knowing very well they are kicking over a hornets nest.
We are all on the same team, my friend, and we all seek the same result.
…why do the numbers and stats seem to tell a different story?
Peter Porcupine says
Right after Christmas, the Claude Reins in charge of releasing these indicators will be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that between discouraged workers, unemployed graduates, and exhausted multi-job part-timers, the unemployment numbers have been drastically understated and we are approaching a crisis.
Of course, then it will all be Trump’s fault.
Are you telling me you buy the conspiracy theories that Labor Department cooks the books in this regard to make the President look good?! My understanding is that Obama’s tenure is rivaled only by Clinton’s in the number of consecutive months of private sector job growth, election year or not. I agree in general numbers are often understated for the reasons you cite, but then that could have been ameliorated by larger stimuli and no sequester.
Next thing you know, Republican FBI directors will be trumpeting nonsense about go-nowhere investigations to influence at election.
I was talking to some friends yesterday about the state of retail. I know that shopping malls are going the way of the dinosaur, but I’m not sure if people in Eastern MA are seeing this phenomenon the way we are seeing it in Western MA.
In the Springfield retail region there are three enclosed shopping malls: Holyoke Mall, Eastfield Mall (in Springfield) and the Enfield Mall (just over the border in Enfield CT). Of those three malls, two are on the verge of closing.
The Eastfield Mall – the region’s first mall – is down to a single anchor store: Sears, and everyone knows that Sears is an endangered species. I would say that 50% of the mall stores are empty. It has a movie theater, which keeps it going a bit.
The Enfield Mall is anchored by a Target and a Sears. I would estimate that 80% of the mall stores are empty. It also has a movie theater.
The Holyoke Mall, being a more regional mall, is doing a better, but still isn’t that great. It has its share of hair threading and massage storefronts. No movie theater there.
Again, I don’t know if this is a sign of the times or a sign of our region, but it sure feels like things are getting worse here all the time.
Some of the retail has moved to smaller shopping plazas, mostly in suburban communities, but that makes it very insular – it is hard for someone from Wilbraham to shop in Agawam, and vice-versa. Most of the major cities have boarded-up storefronts.
It may be great that consumers can get their goods from Amazon Prime, but that has effectively shifted a lot of retail jobs from our many cities and towns to Seattle.
…retail has never been big thanks to our proximity to tax-free NH.
Amazon has shifted a lot of retail jobs from our many cities and towns to…robots, mainly in Seattle. The US has long been over-retailed, and online shopping is just accelerating it. Like manufacturing, these jobs aren’t coming back.
…it didn’t help that the Clinton campaign operated as a Trump outreach mechanism on the ground in working-class white neighborhoods. As those of you who follow my comments might know, I started tracking Trump’s progress in Pennsylvania and Ohio in February.
Much of Trump’s success in those States were the direct result of a comprehensive ground game comprised largely by Democrats who were snubbed by arrogant out-of-State Clinton operatives. This included Democratic elected officials.
A variant on this also affected black turnout in battleground states. Per Politico:
FWIW, I was hearing this from black operatives across the board; northern and southern, rural and urban.
And purely as a Massachusetts-specific variation on this theme, that’s how Charlie Baker was elected in 2014. There were too few locally-credible people working the ground on Coakley’s behalf, with totally foreseeable results.
We won’t win major elections until we expunge the institutional narcissism prevalent in Democratic institutional cultures.
…but the 2015 UK election is something about which I have some knowledge, via acquaintance with US-based vendors to the UK Labour Party.
Labor strategists discounted the pull of the SNP in Scottish Labour constituencies, and put little to no grassroots efforts into protecting Labour MPs.
For reasons to lengthy to go into here Labour ignored the obvious, with totally foreseeable results.